Sunday, November 29, 2009


I work too much.


I'm salaried and I constantly pull 10- to 12-hour days with no overtime pay. The company has also put a freeze on salary increases. I'm often burnt-out and frazzled. In short: What The Hell Am I Doing?

I need to get a grip on time management. The problems are that 1.) I usually get much more done after 6 pm when everyone is gone; 2.) My boss comes in late and works late and thus expects me to stay as well; and 3.) I honestly don't know what to do with myself if I'm home at 5 or 5:30.

I recently read an amazing guest post on Ramit Sethi's I Will Teach You To Be Rich (buy his book, by the way, it's amazing!) about how to be accomplished and successful while working an 8-hour day. It's all about time management and productivity. I'm good at my job and I enjoy what I do, but I have to admit that I need to be more focused during the time that I am there! My new goal is to get a lot done, progress within my company, and still enjoy my personal hobbies.

Maybe with a 40-hour work week I will actually have time to get through my reading list. I could run more, make time to see friends, study for the GRE, cook, sleep, and even (gasp!) relax. I have seen so few movies and tv shows that it is hard to hold a casual conversation. True story.

Work less? That shouldn't be hard, right? But it is, trust me. Society commonly defines people by their occupation and we often become emotionally invested in our jobs. Personal success and failure determined by a paycheck. Not good.

Balance is the goal. Time management is the key. And being happy—both at the job and away from it—is worth the fight.

So, this next week my goal is this: To work my a** off (as usual), but in a consistent and productive manner for 8-hours a day. And then go home. This will be hard, and it may take some time, but I think both my personal and professional lives will benefit from it.

It's gonna get interesting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Orleans Wrap-Up

I brought my camera with me to the Big Easy. I had all these amazing intentions to take pictures of the city, the conference, the food…

I didn’t take a single picture with my camera. I did take one photo with my phone (my black suit looked great).

Despite my lack of photography, the trip was good! The numbers were low—in both attendance and exhibitors—but I still think it was an otherwise successful conference.

The highlights (and lowlights):
  • Dinner at Mr. B’s Bistro. I had their pork chop—delicious.

  • The Roosevelt hotel. Gorgeous! Very ornate decorations. Except that it really bugged me when they repeatedly “refreshed” the room and switched on every light and electronic machine possible. I appreciate the service but all I could think about was how much time, money, electricity, and resources that were wasted! My room is clean, now just walk away.

  • The hotel had a gym! Running below sea level is fun.

  • I collected a number of business cards and chatted about some promising book projects… and some not-so-promising book projects. “Japanese foreign policy in Mozambique”? “Deforestation and wildlife policy in Nigeria”? Um, yikes. Very narrow. Who’s going to read that?

  • My coworkers. Had a great time gossiping with our marketing manager and it was nice to see an old colleague.

  • The French Quarter. So cute and charming! Unfortunately, we didn’t make it out of these touristy areas so I don’t think I got to see the “real” New Orleans (whatever that may be).

  • The attendees—full of life and character! We had African music outside our booth. One man wanted to buy a book so badly (at the sale price, of course) that he took our only copy and carried it around the book exhibit until the "fire sale". Heaven forbid that either 1) someone else bought the book, or 2) he had to pay full price.

  • Lowlight: the conference was poorly organized. Two-thirds of us had to sharpie our names on the name tags. Not very professional for being a “professional” conference and all.

  • Lowlight: unless we sat at the bar (where we often made good friends with the bartenders!) the service was painfully slow. I’m not sure if this is a “Big Easy” thing or what, but it’s a good thing that we weren’t ever in a rush.
Despite the downsides, it was all-in-all a good experience! It’s nice to be back in my own bed and I'm even more excited for the long weekend out of the office. (My e-mail inbox still scares me.)

More to the point, I hope that being at the meeting will help to circulate my name among our authors and even more important, potential authors. My goal is that people will realize that they can come directly to me with their questions and their book projects.

I have to admit that just getting out of town for a while was nice, but there is one thing I really took away from this conference: Don’t worry so much! Things inevitably go much better—in business and in life—when you just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Which badge looks more professional?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Conference Preparation

I have to admit: I’m both excited and surprisingly apathetic about the upcoming African Studies Association conference. There will be only a few exhibitors and I’m sure that a number of professors and students will not make the trip to New Orleans due to departmental budget cuts and the end-of-semester crunch. Despite this, I’m still looking forward to meeting a number of our authors and finally placing faces to the endless e-mails and phone calls.

On a good note, I have some great outfits picked out! And “professional” hair, of course. I’m planning to bring two suits from The Limited and some classy shirts from Banana Republic—hurrah! (Yes, some days I am still a girl when it comes to these things.) Where I’m stuck is what to wear on the casual set-up and travel days. My normal Boulder attire—jeans and an old running shirt—probably won’t cut it. This is where being raised with two older brothers is a problem. I have absolutely no fashion sense.

The thing I’m most worried about? It’s not seeing New Orleans, missing some of the sights, or even making a complete dork of myself at the conference. It’s that the hotel doesn’t have a gym! No treadmill. Anywhere. I just ran a 5k this morning and had a great run and even a new personal record—in a blizzard! So now I’m even more motivated. I want to hit another personal record in the ColderBoulder in December. Besides, running will allow me to eat everything in sight in a city known for its cuisine.

Am I becoming a Boulderite? Already? Say it ain’t so!

Anyway, back to New Orleans and the conference. My goals:

1.) Eat lots of great food and try new dishes
2.) Make a lasting impression with our authors
3.) Meet some more industry professionals
4.) See some live jazz
5.) Most importantly, stop worrying and just enjoy myself

Sounds easy enough, right? Right?


Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Being a Professional and Your Hair?

I dyed my hair today. I dyed it brown. I grew up a blonde and have been fighting to keep it light for years. But I’m attending a professional conference in two weeks and I feel like having dark hair will help me to look older and more professional. Unfortunate as it may be, young blondes aren’t exactly embraced in academia.

I never knew that hair was such a tricky subject! Some of my favorite conversations from this afternoon:

From my mom: “Was this something you'd been thinking about or was it the result of over-partying?”
My response: “Over-partying? Really? I promise that I’m not sipping vodka at my desk or even in the salon chair.”

From my sister-in-law: “The hair rules are: Going lighter- use a professional. Going darker- can be done from a box. Another reason us brunettes are so awesome. We're a cheap date.”
My response: "If that’s the case then I love being a brunette!"

From my coworker: Instead of saying, “I like it” he asked, “Do you like it?” which means that he doesn’t like it.

In any case, the point is this: How can you be a professional, stylish, young woman without going over the line? Long hair vs. short hair; blonde vs. brown; heels vs. flats; too much makeup? not enough?

Is it possible to win?

A quick google search shows that this is a very real question for women in the workplace. One of my favorite style blogs, Wardrobe 911, projects a feminine yet professional image. But clothes are expensive! $200 for a skirt or pair of slacks? Impossible for a young professional who is just trying to make rent.

My office is pretty casual, but I still try to make an effort (most days). Equally so, I look ridiculous if I overdress at work when everyone else is wearing jeans and khakis. A fine line.

Despite the hilarious one-liners from my family and friends, I’m going to have to wait and see the response from my boss and from conference attendees (authors, industry professionals, etc.).

I’m asking for respect despite my age. If the color of my hair is one step closer to that professional acknowledgment then I’m willing to make the sacrifice.